Lutui: I'll lead from the front
Story and Photo: www.rugbyworldcup.com
WHANGAREI, Sept 19. - Aleki Lutui has welcomed the captaincy role in Tonga's must-win Pool A match against Japan at Northland Events Centre on Wednesday.
The hooker, stepping into the shoes of Finau Maka, who suffered bruised ribs in last week's 25-20 defeat to Canada, knows how much is riding on the result.
"It's a big game for us," said Lutui. "It's a game that we need to win, so it's a big responsibility when you get called up to be captain. Last week, we are disappointed with that, with Canada and before that, the All Blacks. Now we have to get it right.
"It's a hard role to take, but you have to lead from the front. My role on the field is as a player, so I will just fulfil that."
Tonga have made eight changes to the starting XV who played Canada in Whangarei last week. Among the positional switches. Taniela Moa reverts to his regular role at scrum half and Kurt Morath moves from full back to fly half.
Coach Isitolo Maka said it was a calculated move, but now he wanted to return the players who faced the All Blacks in the opening match of the tournament at Eden Park.
"It was not an experiment, we knew we had to play Taniela there (against Canada)," he said. "This week we thought we would play a lot more like the way we played against New Zealand and that's why we brought Kurt back to No.10."
Of those retained in the starting XV, outside centre Siale Piutau is poised to become the first Tongan to score three tries at a Rugby World Cup.